Commitment + Consistency

Usually, when asked what I wish my superpower would have been, I answer 'a great singing voice'. After all, as a kid, there was a moment when the penny dropped that my melodious voice was actually, in fact, not melodious in the slightest!

These days, from the list of less fun superpowers, I would choose to walk the isles of wherever Commitment and Consistency are stored. "Why?!", you may ask. Because, time and time again 'achieving anything', in actuality, is the result of someone making a conscious decision to work towards that anything (commitment), a little by little (consistency); a staircase is as much 'individual steps' as 'individual steps' becomes a staircase.

Lately, I've been trying to follow this framework as part of my professional career. Finding myself easily daunted by the first sign of a 'complex' programming problem, I have daydreamed for that one day when the missing puzzle piece would fall into place and I would feel somewhat technically invincible (a.k.a. competent). More often than not, Women in STEM are already (wrongly) believed to be less technical by many; even after 4 years of a Computer Science degree, I marvel at how quickly I end up feeling like an imposter.

I am certain many of you reading this would relate to such a feeling, we are especially great at boosting the confidence of others and telling them that no amount of experience ever truly silences the bouts of self-doubt, that the only person you ought to compare yourself to is (not other people) but the past-you. And yet, we forget to apply this same advice to ourselves!

Thus, in defiance, by marrying my motivation to succeed with the discipline found through working with a career coach, I have placed myself right in the center of all this, on purpose. In simpler terms, you'll find me doing the following more often (take everything with a pinch of salt but feel free to use this as inspo for your careers and if you do? please let me know!)

Leet (Riz) Code

I know leet code is a weird one. People (and companies) take these too seriously and spend every waking hour flexing about how great they are at solving them. They forget that programming isn't just about programming, a good coder must work on building a whole bucket of other skills (such as being a good listener, learning to work in sync with others, understanding and avoiding causing harm as a result of technological solutions etc.). Too much of anything is bad for you and we all know it.

With all this in mind, I continue to practice leet code questions because they are good at pointing you to the fundamentals of programming logic. During the 1st year of University, I still vividly remember the day we were taught about a linked list. I was baffled at why this was even needed! With the knowledge I have now, revisiting these foundations through leet code questions is a journey into familiar terrain. And now I get to document it (...eventually! For now, follow my progress on GitHub).

Side Project

There is no denying a side project has a lot of potential. You, as the owner of your side project, can upscale or downscale the project while experimenting and learning heaps of new and old things all towards its overall vision. It does not even need to be grand or overly polished, a project is a perfect playground where the floor is a trampoline so when you tumble to the ground without your training wheels, you bounce back without any broken bones. The freedom to fail is everything. I cherish buidling my 1st full-stack node application for an assingment — though the stakes were higher and though I pulled an all-nighter to complete its must-haves — I (!) had made it (!!!).

I plan to find or start such a side project again. I'm currently choosing what to commit to so if you have any project ideas you'd like to share, please reach out.

Work

This one is more specific to my day job as a Success Engineer so it might not apply to your situation but I wanted to share it briefly, nonetheless. Based on my own goals and what's needed to succeed as a team and org, I have chosen to delibrately be mindful and grow in the following ways:

  • Collaborate more: different people will leave you with different teachings. Teamwork is primary to any work.
  • Debug better and document everything: my programming skills will undoubtedly benefit of my ability to find clues in the issues reported and sharing these learnings in the form of good documentation (reminder: good writers become better developers).
  • Be a sponge: every situation is a lesson in hiding. I know no better substitute to throwing yourself into the deep end.
  • Trust my gut feeling: because no one else can tell you what you know, intrinsically.

Depending on how flexible your workplace is, I recommend planning regular time during work hours to consciously think and work on your own goals that could also benefit your teams. Everyone wins.

Coaching

Having an experienced coach who works with me and is a great listener and an even better question-asker, I know I have someone who helps me with being accountable with my time. However, I also know that life's messy. Things won't always work with my grand plans. The Consistency part of Commitment + Consistency can take a hit in these situations. Your coach will also know to support you in these more turbulent times so you don't bite off more than you can chew. Find a coach, lean on their expertise.


There you have it. At the start of 2021, I told a friend that this year would be 'the year of technical excellence'. It was kind of a hopeful joke. Come the end of August, I am convinced to make it so.

Until next time,
Riz